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The Wilmette Theatre – is celebrating its Centennial year – and we are at a financial and technological crossroads. Read more

Wilmette, IL Theater
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Funded!

This project was successfully funded on May 1, 2014.

The Wilmette Theatre – is celebrating its Centennial year – and we are at a financial and technological crossroads.

Wilmette, IL Theater
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About this project

Why the OLD theatre must go NEW

100 Years of History

The Wilmette Theatre is located in this small community just north of Chicago.  Most local, independent theaters across the country are long shuttered. Ours is a wonderful exception. Because our building houses a two screen movie space and a nationally recognized acting school, The Actors Training Center, the historic Wilmette Theatre is open and bustling.

For 96 years, the Wilmette was privately owned. Three years ago, it became a registered 501 (c)(3), not-for-profit. Our funding is derived from individual donations, donations from North Shore Community Bank, movie and programming revenue, and the ATC’s tuition. We receive no funding from the village of Wilmette.

To keep our expenses as low as possible, we operate with a bare bones but extremely dedicated staff. Because of the inherent costs of running an old building, as well as the costs of doing business, the money we bring in barely covers our monthly expenses, and at times does not. 

The Digital Imperative

Against that tenuous financial backdrop, we are facing another, even more critical challenge to our future, and that is the movie industry’s conversion from 35 mm film to digital technology. Several years ago, in a rare act of unity, all the major movie studios came together and committed to copying and distributing their movies ONLY in digital format, and no longer in 35 mm. The large movie chains got the word early on and were given financial incentives to make the change. Virtually all have converted.

In September, Gary Susman in Rolling Stone Magazine wrote an enlightening yet sobering article about the digital conversion. Susman does a wonderful job of summarizing the transition that’s taken place and why. He writes: “The major studios have driven the movement mainly -­‐ but not solely -­‐ because of the high cost of printing and distributing films on celluloid versus digital. They also argue that the digital quality doesn’t degrade (doesn’t get dirty, scratched or break) with repeated screenings the way celluloid does, and despite what some filmmakers and film buffs vehemently argue, the studios claim that the screen quality of digital is almost as good as 35 mm. “

 “Over the past couple years, Hollywood has all but ceased distributing films on celluloid reels, the medium of movies for more than 100 years, in favor of digital prints stored on hard drives. (A digital copy may cost the studios just $125, compared to as much as $2,000 for a 35MM print.) America's movie screens have been forced to follow suit, and so far, some 85 percent have done so, buying digital projectors that can cost as much as $100,000 a piece."

But not every theater can afford to cough up that kind of cash. The National Association of Theater Owners, the trade organization that represents exhibitors, has estimated that as many as 10,000 screens – one in every five screens in North America – could go dark because they can't afford to convert.

Preserve the Magic in Wilmette and Get a Gift in Return

To remain in the movie theater business, our challenge is to convert our two screens to digital, at the cost of over  $100,000.

We recently were fortunate enough to receive a generous donation to enable us to pay for one of our two theater digital projectors - a Christie Solaria One. That projector has allowed us to show a wider range of movies at the theatre and has significantly reduced the amount of time and labor it takes to prepare and maintain running the 35mm projector.

This was a significant breath of life for us but we are now asking you to help us complete the work. We need your support funding the second digital projection system. That system will include:

  • Digital projector
  • Lens and lamp
  • Digital projector movie server
  • Cabling and hardware
  • Upgraded sound system

If we are fortunate enough to meet or exceed our goal for the second digital projection system we are committed to tackling other projects that are also very critical to the future of the theater. Those projects include: 

  • Upgraded signage outside of our building and in our lobby,
  • Better quality movie screens (our current ones are very old)
  • New seats for our theaters
  • Upgrading our theater management software
  • A new marquee to help attract customers

The Kickstarter approach to fundraising allows us to thank you for your contribution with a gift from the Wilmette Theatre. However, the reality with Kickstarter is that we must reach 100% of our goal ($70,000) or we get nothing.

But we believe in our community and we believe in you, so our optimism in achieving that $70,000 goal is high.

Risks and challenges

We are optimistic that with a funded project we can get the new system purchased and installed rapidly. Mostly because we have already been through the installation process once. The vendor we used did an outstanding job and we plan to stick with them. However, there are always outside factors that could affect this project including a delay in equipment or parts shipping, an unexpected issue with our building or electrical infrastructure, turnover in staff - all potentially extending the amount of time to fully realize the benefits of the new digital projection system. All in all, we view these as very minor risks.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

  • Absolutely!

    If our campaign is successful, aside from offering a state of the art digital image, the sound quality of our movies will be greatly improved.

    The digital cinema system we plan to purchase will have a new amplifier, audio processor and sound monitor. Not only will the movies look great but they will sound great too!

    Last updated:
  • The Wilmette Theater is a registered 501c-3 not for profit organization which means your contribution would indeed be deductible.

    Last updated:

Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    35 backers

    Your name will be posted on the Wilmette Theatre web site and onscreen prior to a movie screening providing special recognition of you as a contributor.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    66 backers

    MOVIE PASS - (1) free admission movie pass with one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass.

    Plus your name will be posted on the Wilmette Theatre web site and onscreen prior to a movie screening providing special recognition of you as a contributor.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $40 or more

    107 backers

    MOVIE PASSES - (2) free admission movie passes with one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass. Plus your name will be posted on the Wilmette Theatre web site and onscreen prior to a movie screening providing special recognition of you as a contributor.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    25 backers

    ATC SINGLE SHOW PASS - (2) tickets to an upcoming live theatrical performance from the renowned Actor's Training Center with one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass. Plus your name will be posted on the Wilmette Theatre web site and onscreen prior to a movie screening providing special recognition of you as a contributor.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $80 or more

    69 backers

    MOVIE PASSES - (4) free admission movie passes with one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass. Plus your name will be posted on the Wilmette Theatre web site and onscreen prior to a movie screening providing special recognition of you as a contributor.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $90 or more

    4 backers

    ATC SINGLE SHOW FAMILY PASS - (4) tickets to an upcoming live theatrical performance from the renowned Actors Training Center with one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass. Your name will be posted on the Wilmette Theatre web site and onscreen prior to a movie screening providing special recognition of you as a contributor.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    97 backers

    MOVIE & THEATRE COMBO - (2) tickets to any combination of 1 Movie and 1 Actors Training Center theatrical performance including one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass per visit. Your name will be posted on the Wilmette Theatre web site and onscreen prior to a movie screening providing special recognition of you as a contributor.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    6 backers

    OUT OF TOWNER MOVIE & THEATRE COMBO - For those that cannot make it to Wilmette to catch our shows, we will contribute in your name (2) tickets to any combination of 1 Movie and 1 Actors Training Center theatrical performance to the Wilmette Youth Connection. The tickets will include one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass per visit. Your name will be posted on the Wilmette Theatre web site and onscreen prior to a movie screening providing special recognition of you as a contributor.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $150 or more

    15 backers

    MOVIE & THEATRE COMBO - (2) tickets to any combination of 2 Movies at the Theatre and 2 Actors Training Center theatrical performances including one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass per visit. Plus your name will be posted on the Wilmette Theatre web site and onscreen prior to a movie screening providing special recognition of you as a contributor.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $200 or more

    29 backers

    ONE YEAR OF MOVIES - (1) free admission movie pass per month for 12 months including one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass per visit. Your name will be posted on the Wilmette Theatre web site and onscreen prior to a movie screening.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    12 backers

    MOVIE & THEATRE COMBO - (2) tickets to any combination of 4 Movies at the Theatre and 4 Actors Training Center theatrical performances including one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass per visit. . Plus your name will be posted on the Wilmette Theatre web site and onscreen prior to a movie screening. In addition, we will send you a commemorative professional photo of the theatre with a "Thank You" spelled on the marquis and personally signed by us.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $300 or more

    29 backers

    ONE YEAR OF MOVIES - (2) free admission movie passes per month for 12 months including one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass per visit. Plus your name will be posted on the Wilmette Theatre web site and onscreen prior to a movie screening. In addition, we will send you a commemorative professional photo of the theatre with a "Thank You" spelled on the marquis and personally signed by us.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    17 backers

    TWO YEARS OF MOVIES - (2) free admission movie passes per month for 24 months including one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass per visit. Your name will be posted on the Wilmette Theatre web site and onscreen prior to a movie screening. In addition, we will send you a commemorative professional photo of the theatre with a "Thank You" spelled on the marquis and personally signed by us.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    8 backers

    ONE YEAR MOVIE TEN PACK - (10) free admission movie passes per month for 12 months including one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass per visit. Your name will be posted on the Wilmette Theatre web site and onscreen prior to a movie screening. In addition, we will send you a commemorative professional photo of the theatre with a "Thank You" spelled on the marquis and personally signed by us.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,500 or more

    1 backer

    ONE YEAR MOVIE TEN PACK PLUS (10) - free admission movie passes per month for 12 months including one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass per visit. Your name will be posted on the Wilmette Theatre web site and onscreen prior to a movie screening. In addition, we will send you a commemorative professional photo of the theatre with a "Thank You" spelled on the marquis and personally signed by us. Plus we will also send you a 10 frame strip of rare 35mm film used for one of our past movie showings.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $2,400 or more

    0 backers

    TWO YEAR MOVIE TEN PACK PLUS (10) - free admission movie passes per month for 12 months including one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass per visit. Your name will be posted on the Wilmette Theatre web site and onscreen prior to a movie screening. In addition, we will send you a commemorative professional photo of the theatre with a "Thank You" spelled on the marquis and personally signed by us. Plus we will also send you a 10 frame strip of rare 35mm film used for one of our past movie showings.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $2,500 or more

    1 backer All gone!

    2015 OSCAR CELEBRATION! Host 150 of your friends to celebrate the 2015 Oscars Night in one of our theaters during the live telecast. And, we will open the theater's spirits (cash) bar. Your name will be posted on the Wilmette Theatre web site and onscreen prior to a movie screening.In addition, we will send you a commemorative professional photo of the theatre with a "Thank You" spelled on the marquis and personally signed by us.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $3,000 or more

    1 backer

    PRIVATE MOVIE SHOWING - Host a private movie showing of your choice (subject to availability) for up to 150 of your friends, family or business guests. Each guest will get unlimited large popcorn and large drink combo. And we will open the theatre's spirits (cash) bar. In addition your name will be posted on the Wilmette Theatre web site and onscreen prior to a movie screening. In addition, we will send you a commemorative professional photo of the theatre with a "Thank You" spelled on the marquis and personally signed by us.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States

Funding period

- (30 days)